Post-modern objections 2 & apologetical method

Posted: July 17, 2013 in General

Another question that a friend came had posed to him:

“You believe your religion is true, but so do all the other people in their other religions!”

We apply the same presuppositional procedure to dealing with this argument:

One could simply state : “So what” again! Where is the objection in their statement? Sometimes people just make statements that don’t actually directly pose objections in them (they do in what is ‘behind’ the claim) but not in the actual statement itself on the face of it.

The statement “You believe your religion is true, but so do all the other people in their other religions!” is a true statement – I do believe my religion to be true, and other people believe theirs is true too. What is lurking behind this statement is something a bit more insidious. I am sure if you pushed a person on this, it would look something like:

A: “Well, how do you know YOURS is the true religion?” (this, no doubt, coming from a place of skepticism that you can even know what the true religion is).

It could even look a bit more extreme, as it could be a knowledge claim rather than a question:

B:”Well you think your right, they think they are right, so you can’t know which is right!”

This is a good example to demonstrate more of the two step apologetic method in presuppositionalism !

If you have A given to you, you must answer according to Christian Theism (CT). This would look like the following:

God has already informed us that His Word is true and all other positions and all other God’s are false. (Psalm 96:5, 1 Chronicles 16:26, Isaiah 45:5, Colossians 2:8, Romans 3:4)  We have it on the authority of one who is omniscient and truthful that these things are so. (John 16:30, Job 37:16,  Psalm 147:5, John 17:17, Psalm 119:160). Many, if not all, of your answers are explaining aspects of systematic theology in reference to a particular topic that the question raises.
This first step of presuppositionalism is simply scripture being applied in an apologetic setting. What does the Bible say across its breadth about the omniscience of God? What about His truthfulness? What about the idea that all other religion’s are false? How does the bible answer these things? You HAVE to know your Bible!
The only thing that makes you different from the skeptic you are answering is that you have revelation from God, you have His certain word! If you step off the rock of that certain foundation, into the sea of subjectivity and personal or majority opinion you are in no better a position than a the skeptic is – and lack just as much an ability to answer as he will.

No doubt though that the skeptic will not accept your answers – but we never expected him to be convinced by it – he already has a pre-commitment to his own worldview which has a totally different idea of what is possible and what is not possible than we do. All we have done is explain how we can account for the fact that our religion is the true one according to our worldview. It is when the skeptic objects to our answer that we show him that he has no choice but to accept Christian theism – that his worldview cannot possibly furnish the necessary preconditions of intelligibility (what things would have to be the case in order for reality to be knowable). It is with these things in place that allow him to even make the objection to our position!  This is when we show them by the impossibility of the contrary. This is covered more in answer to B below – you can also read a more comprehensive article on this idea here: The heart of the matter – by Greg Bahnsen.

To be sure though – You, as a Christian, and even more so as a presuppositionalist, must be able to give an answer for the questions that are being asked of you, as well as those that you would ask the skeptic!  (1 Peter 3:15).
Constantly asking ‘how do you know that’ without giving any positive presentation of the Christian worldview or the gospel is not presuppositionalism.

If you get B thrown at you, you need to be able to dismantle the knowledge claim. This, principally,  would look like the following perhaps:

How do they know we can’t know it is possible to know which religion is right (that isn’t what the Christian believes!) ? That is a knowledge claim coming out of their worldview with all of its presuppositions feeding what is possible and what is not! Where do they get their idea of possibility from? What is possible is based on what their basic meta-physic (what exists) which ties in with epistemology (how we come to know those things). The question then becomes, what basis do they have for believing that those metaphysical and epistemological views are true? What would the world look like if they were true? Would it allow a person to make sense of this reality, or would it destroy any ability to know anything at all?

Fundamental to the question itself is the view that because there are other views (in this case, religions), you cannot know what the truth of a matter is. This of course asks the question, can we know the truth of THAT statement? I covered this here: Post-modern objections part 1

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